Tuesday, February 23, 2016

_The Hancock News_ Column--February 17, 2016

“Cock-doo-doo p-Pod!”

Our toddler was so excited to tell us that his big brother was playing his second favorite song (first is “Ee-i-ee-i-oh”), and we loved hearing his new baby words. We responded so he knew we understood him.

“You like to listen to “Katmandu” on the iPod?”

“Huh?” he replied. “No, not youPod, mePod!”

That little tyke isn’t the only one in our house to be a little confused when it comes to all the technology filling up our lives. Sure, I like email and reading blogs, but I get overwhelmed by all the rest. I don’t “do” Facebook, and I don’t text. I don’t even have a cell phone.

If you want to know how downright old-fashioned I can be, I still write letters and send cards. In fact, if I had more time, I’d probably write a letter a day. I even write letters to strangers and companies.

Why? I’ve always been obsessed with good old snail-mail. I remember tagging along eagerly after my mother into the post office and begging her to let me open the box. It wasn’t the plain gray kind of nowadays that opened with a key. No, it was brassy-looking and ornate, and you had to twist the knobs to work the combination. Opening the box and pulling out the mail, regardless of what it contained, was like uncovering buried treasure for me.

When I visited my grandparents in Washington, every afternoon I waited for three o’clock to roll around when I’d trot down that steep hill to check the mailbox. I can’t explain why I felt so proud and useful to be bringing the mail back to the house.

And I had pen pals. For starters, my Oma and I wrote back and forth on matching stationery, a yellowish paper with a mother and her baby koala. I wrote to friends from church camp and Miyoshi, my pen pal from Japan. I wrote to Stacy, the girl I met at vacation Bible school at Oma’s church; she was special because we were born on exactly the same day.

Then there were the stamps--oh, the wonderful stamps! I didn’t collect them, but I loved when the worker at the post office would pull sheets of them from the drawer and spread them on the tall counter for me to choose. I even liked tearing off each stamp, licking the back, and positioning it just-so on my envelope. I tell you, I never quite got over the change to self-sticking stamps.

Yes, I revel in the mail and all things postal. I’m not certain why, but maybe it’s because somebody cared enough to take the time to go through all those steps--the note, the envelope, the stamp, the mailbox, just to share a bit of themselves with me.

You might think I’m crazy to hold onto something as ancient as our postal system, but I just dare you not to smile or let your spirits rise the next time you see your name hand-written on the outside of an envelope.


Cool Valentines Boxes--Yes, that's King Tut.

Our family had fun this afternoon at our little Valentine’s Day party. The children made boxes for their valentines, and they delivered their own little greetings to each other. They opened the valentines and little gifts over tea, heart-shaped cheese slices, and these gluten-free muffins. You see, our doctor recommended one of our children try a gluten-free diet for a month, so the rest of us are on that journey with him.

Even if you’re not on a gluten-free diet, you will enjoy these little gems. I was pleasantly surprised by the texture and taste of these grain-free chocolate and peanut butter muffins. My husband and I think we’ll try this recipe again sometime without the chocolate and serve them with jelly for a twist on the classic peanut butter and jelly.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins (gluten-free)

2 cups peanut butter 
1 heaping cup mashed bananas
4 eggs
4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup brown sugar (if you like things really sweet, you might try 1/2 cup)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips, plus extra for the top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 16 muffin cups with cupcake liners.

Put the peanut butter, bananas, eggs, vanilla extract, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Place the baking soda on the top and pour the vinegar on top of it to make it fizz. Next, puree it all until smooth and creamy. Transfer the puree to a bowl and stir in the chocolate chips with a spoon. Fill the cupcake liners up nearly to the brim with the mixture. If desired, add some extra dark chocolate chips to the top of each muffin. Bake for 17-20 minutes, until puffy and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. If the toothpick hits chocolate, try again in a different spot. Let the muffins cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the pans.

*Thanks to JES at Strangers & Pilgrims at Home for the recipe (to which I added my own comments).


  1. Brown sugar is a nice addition :) And I agree with you. I still send out letters in the mail. In fact, I have a stack right now that need stamps! :)

    1. Thank you for that recipe. It is, as we say in our house, a "keeper."

      I had a new mail experience yesterday--a field trip to the post office :)